Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Eat Your Lunch

Going out to lunch in Galveston this last Saturday I took along John Daido Loori’s little book Bringing the Sacred to Life. Its subject is how to consciously practice our liturgy in the Zendo, how to perform our daily practice in our homes and, simply, how to practice out in the world. How to make our daily practice sacred? One of the subjects is eating. It's something we do everyday, but usually we're not paying attention, we're not conscious of the activity of eating. We read a book, the newspaper, we talk to others (real or imaginary), we daydream, we make plans. According to Zen, if we are eating, then we should eat. The point is to be conscious during the process of eating. So here:

We take our food in a bowl. We call the bowl the Buddha’s bowl. Master Dogen said:

"The Buddha bowl is not an artifact, it neither arises nor perishes, neither comes nor goes, neither gains nor loses. It is not concerned with past, present or future. This bowl is called the miraculous bowl."

Miraculous because it’s used in a miraculous event, at a miraculous time, by a miraculous person. On this account, when a miraculous event is realized, there is a miraculous bowl. There is no need to search for the miraculous. We’re surrounded by it, interpenetrated by it. Our very life is a manifestation of that miraculousness. When we acknowledge that the food we eat comes from the efforts of all sentient beings, past and present, we immediately identify with that Great Net of Indra.

Of course, after reading this passage, I had to set down my book, give a prayer of thanksgiving and pay attention to my meal. Spicy caldo de pescado. It was delicious.

I hope to see you tomorrow night.

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